Today’s Scripture is Isaiah 65: 17 – 18 (NRSV)…
For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
Today’s blog post is by Will Newton, Contemporary Worship Leader
Many people know that I’m getting married this year. Many people don’t know that my father is neither invited, nor cognizant of the wedding. Many friends of mine freely went to their dad for advice and guidance as they prepared for marriage, but I don’t have that opportunity.
Many friends entered marriage knowing an earthly father who comforted, supported, kissed, relished, and even flirted with their mother in plain sight. But those aren’t actions modeled for me by my dad.
Instead, as I consider marriage, I have vivid memories of yelling, cursing, belittling, abuse, and abandonment.
As I prepare to start my own family, my joy is tainted by “former things”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to celebrate in this time; my mother (who was loving enough for two parents), my fiancee’s family (filled with warmth), or the countless Christian men who have modeled true marriage to me over the years. But that missing link almost seeps into every image I have of this new journey. The sins of my father have found a way to chain themselves to this new beginning. You could say they “come to mind” more often than I expected.
What does any of this have to do with Isaiah 65? The prophet here is speaking to Israel after the Assyrian capture of Jerusalem and then later the Babylonian Exile. The writer is addressing a nation that was sacked, pillaged, and displaced. Children starved. Men and women were enslaved. And many people were ripped from their home. It actually makes the destruction of the Temple seem relatively minor compared to the horrors Israel had to experience.
But Isaiah’s audacious vision is one of newness and forgetfulness. You may know this language of a “new heaven and new earth” from Revelation 21, where it says “the home of God is among mortals . . . He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death will be no more.”
Isaiah’s message to a nation reeling from sin and destruction is a new hope. He claims there is a reality where the sins committed against them are not clinging to them, and their existence itself will become joy and delight.
This new hope is the calling of the Church; not to deny the sins of the past, but to create a new earth joined with the Father. To strive and stretch for a time when we are no longer subject to former things, to destruction, but instead live in the joy and delight of God.
I cannot forget the harm my father has done to my family, but I no longer have to live under that rule of sin. I can create a family that does not know those former things, where those things do not come to mind. I can create a safe space for my wife and my children.
And we as the Church can fight for a world that will not satisfy fear and terror. We can forget the former injustices that desolate ourselves and fellow creatures. But we must become as crazy about resurrection as Isaiah’s words were to Israel at the time. We must fight for the thing we may not know for ourselves yet. A new earth, united with God.
Father, may we have courage to seek a new earth, a new heaven, and to live in unity with you, for the redemption of all the former things on this earth. Make us subjects of the joy and delight of your risen Son, and make us agents of that joy. By your Spirit sanctify us of the former things, and recreate us. Amen.